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UK health bosses give fresh warning over lifelong disease that strikes in spring


A FRESH warning has been issued for Brits to be vigilant over serious disease risks while spending more time outdoors this spring.

Lyme disease can, if left untreated, cause heart failure and nerve damage.

Ticks can be found all year round but are most active in the warmer months


Ticks can be found all year round but are most active in the warmer monthsCredit: Getty

Even those who are treated risk long-term symptoms similar to those of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

It is a bacterial infection carried by ticks and spreads when they bite humans.

There are around 3,000 cases of Lyme disease in England every year.

Some of the critters also carry a fatal brain swelling disease called tick-borne encephalitis, which can cause meningitis.

Ticks can be found all year round but are most active in the spring and summer months when the weather gets hotter.

The UK Health Security Agency published a warning on its website last month, which read: “Ticks can be active all year round, but they are most active in the months April to July, and sometimes later in the autumn.

“Activity continues over the winter months but at a significantly reduced level.

“So, we are reminding people to be ‘tick aware’ as they enjoy the great outdoors at any time of the year.”

Most people can be treated with a full course of antibiotics, but if left untreated, the infection can spread to the nervous system, the skin, joints and the heart.

Some people can develop more severe symptoms months or years on from the infection, even if they were treated early.

Bella Hadid suffered an excruciating 15-year battle with the disease, which she often shared moments of on her social media.

The supermodel, 26, was diagnosed with the condition in 2012, but was struggling with debilitating symptoms long before.

If you are bitten by an infected tick, symptoms should appear one to four weeks afterwards.

But they can come on anywhere between three to 30 days after being bitten.

Symptoms include a spreading circular red rash, which might look like a bullseye and flu-like symptoms.

Other signs to look out for include muscle or nerve pains or a drooping facial appearance when the nerves to the muscles around the upper part of the face are affected.

Lyme disease is commonly identified by a 'bull's eye' rash


Lyme disease is commonly identified by a ‘bull’s eye’ rashCredit: Visuals Unlimited – Getty
Bella Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease as a teenager Credit: Instagram


Bella Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease as a teenager Credit: InstagramCredit: instagram

More on tick-borne encephalitis

Since 2022, TBEV has been discovered in humans and in ticks in parts of England.

Before now, the disease was only found in EuropeRussia, parts of China and Japan.

Most people who catch the TBEV will have no or only mild flu-like symptoms.

But in some cases can affect the brain and central nervous system and can sometimes be fatal.

Symptoms of this are similar to other causes of meningitis, and can include a high fever with headache, neck stiffness, confusion or reduced consciousness.

According to the Encephalitis Society, a charity which supports people affected by all types of encephalitis, fewer than two per cent of people die from the viral infection.

If you have developed any of these symptoms after being bitten by a tick or spending time outdoors, immediately contact your GP or call NHS 111, mentioning where you have been and if you remember being bitten.

Where can you catch these diseases? And how to prevent them

Long grass is generally where ticks will be, so playing in a park or on woodland paths shouldn’t be too risky.

But to be safe while out and about, consider wearing clothing that covers your skin to make it more difficult for ticks to bite you.

Use insect repellent such as DEET and wear light-coloured clothing so that you can easily spot ticks and brush them off.

After spending time outside, check yourself, your clothing, your pets and others for ticks.

Remove any attached tick when you find it using a tick-removal tool or fine-tipped tweezers.

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